HTSI editor Jo Ellison
HTSI editor Jo Ellison © Marili Andre

In a year that seems to have moved with a velocity quite unlike any other, we find ourselves offering up our Christmas lists once more. I have been finessing my choices while examining the Halloween pumpkins, in the middle of a week that has felt unseasonably warm. But while the holidays still feel quite a distance away, the experience of compiling a seasonal wishlist has put me in the mood. My mind is drifting to thoughts of cocktails and winter feastings, as well as how to dress for a month of parties.

Schiaparelli wool coat with brass and enamel details, £6,550, leather and brass shoes, £600, and brass Mouth brooch, £475. Alberta Ferretti velvet hat, £420. Falke tights, £16. Feather collar, stylist’s own
Schiaparelli wool coat with brass and enamel details, £6,550, leather and brass shoes, £600, and brass Mouth brooch, £475. Alberta Ferretti velvet hat, £420. Falke tights, £16. Feather collar, stylist’s own © Brigitte Niedermair

With their typical fortitude and a striking vision, the photographer Brigitte Niedermair and style director Isabelle Kountoure have worked together to create a fashion story that describes a festive period laced with the surreal. It features a surfeit of winter crimson and typically celebratory stylings, but is shot with curious, unsettling details – a ghost limb, a foot peeking out from under a table – that make you look again. It’s Christmas as imagined by Lewis Carroll or Salvador Dalí.

Meanwhile, the only unexpected detail in Nick Foulkes’s round-up of new watches is that they cost a great deal less than you might think. The competition among brands to create timepieces at a more accessible price point has been hotting up, encouraged and abetted by a clutch of disruptive and observant chief executives who have grasped that the modern watch consumer has new requirements and is perhaps more likely to shop around. The results are very handsome, as revealed in our shoot by Antoine Harinthe, which showcases the best tick-tocks of the latest crop.

The “Green Room” at Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella
The “Green Room” at Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella © Stefan Giftthaler
Loro Piana in the Heidi restaurant
Loro Piana in the Heidi restaurant © Lea Anouchinsky

And, of course, we have the HTSI gift guide, selected by our editors and regular contributors. I am always intrigued to know what my colleagues really want for Christmas, as well as being genuinely inspired by their choices. This year is no exception, as we offer a wealth of gifts that should suit everyone, from design enthusiasts to fashion addicts, and from food lovers to people looking for more family-orientated ideas.

It’s not all about the shop, shop, shop, though. For many of us, especially those people who no longer live in their birth country, the annual homecoming is a cherished, fundamental experience that has been cruelly disturbed in these pandemic years. In “Meet the artists bringing it all back home”, Aimee Farrell talks to the artists who have drawn on either their own childhood homes, or those of their parents, to create their latest shows. And having read Clare Coulson’s paean to the winter garden, I’m more excited by the prospect (still a prospect, I hope, despite global warming) of seeing the first frost on the ground. A celebration of nature at its most stark and architectural, Clare’s piece is accompanied by images by Andrew Montgomery from his new book (unsurprisingly titled Winter Gardens), in which he captures the outdoors at its most dormant but quietly beautiful in a suffused winter glow. 

@jellison22

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